Tensioning Linen Warps

This week I put on a linen warp and remembered a trick I learned long ago–and it miraculously worked yet again. Immediately after tying the threads on the apron rod all nicely, the tension on the threads became greatly uneven. There were very, very loose threads scattered all across the warp. They had been all evenly tensioned when I tied the knots but the tension didn’t stay. Here’s the trick. It comes from my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, on page 63.

Tensioning Linen Warps

Getting even tension on linen warps is a special situation; linen threads always seem to become uneven as soon as you begin weaving. Don’t re-adjust the tension on the bundles. Instead spray the warp with water from a plant mister and immediately begin weaving the heading. All the threads straighten up and weave perfectly when they’re dampened this way. You should only have to do this once, at the very beginning of the warp, whether you tie surgeon’s knots or lace the bundles.

18 thoughts on “Tensioning Linen Warps

  1. As always, a great tip Peggy. I can’t believe how easy this one is! Question. What happens with the spraying. Does the dampness give the linen enough extra grip that the loose threads get pulled up tight into the header warp?

    • When you spray the warp threads, the loose ones tight up–the threads themselves–not the already-woven warps. Do this while weaving the header. I found the threads loosened before I could get the header started. Then I spayed and just began weaving.

  2. This sounds very interesting. I am about to put on a new linen 4/12 rug warp and wonder if the moisture will help, sure worth a try, but I am not sure how much to spray, just 6-8 inches of header or everything on inside of dent, or more? This warp will be about 8 feet on a Harrisville rug loom.
    I look forward to your guidance.

    • I just spritz the warp in front of the reed. I’ve only done this on linen warps for cloth–not heavy rug warp yarns. I wouldn’t wet it unless the warps begin to have uneven tension. Then wet/spray as needed to achieve even tension and then weave on.

  3. When using this tensioning method for a linen warp. Spritzing then weaving the header, should I remove the lee stricks before I begin the header? Or is it ok to leave them in?

    • Weaving the header I’m talking about is what is done just after the warps are tied onto the front apron. There are no lease sticks here. I spritz, then start weaving the header. If you don’t, the threads loosen and tighten in the knots making you think you didn’t tie them evenly to begin with. To avoid that, spritz. Let me know if you still have questions.

      • My lease sticks are behind the castle. I was wondering if it mattered when you removed them while warping? Do they affect the warp tension?
        I had great success with the spritzing earlier this summer. This time I am having trouble with saging warp threads.
        I am weaving on a 8 shaft table loom 16/2 line linen at 40 ends per inch…. Double weave.
        I tthreaded the heddles and reed and tied the slip knots. Then went on vacation for 3 weeks. I tried lacing on and spritzing then weaving the header in tabby and in the double weave pattern. No luck this time.

        • Lots of sagging warps. I tried retying the knots and re lacing on and still the sagging threads. After the warp dries, I think I might cut off the knots and tie the warp on this time. Then spritz again and weave the header… What do you think ?

          • a good idea. Remember the trick with starting a linen warp is to spritz it with wather as soon as you tie on the warp threads and immediately begin weaving the heading. then all the threads should tension out evenly. Otherwise, you’ll have warp threads loosening and tightening and you’ll think you did not tie on carefully at first. But you did. Peggy

  4. I am trying turned overshot for the first time. I have 10/2 linen for my main warp and 5/2 cotton for the supplementary wary. I realized quite early that this was not a good choice for my first turned overshot pattern as I am not a very experienced weaver. But it is warped and I have painstakingly tightened up each individual sagging thread in both the warps. I am still having some trouble with this. New threads keep sagging, especially in the supplementary cotton warp. Am I trying an impossible project? I only have 3/4 of an inch done and it looks pretty even but I imagine this taking me forever to complete the 2 runners I have warped on here. Do you have any pointers for me?

  5. Thank you for your idea…I am ready to warp my small loom with linen for the first time so I will spritz it where you suggested when I am ready to weave right away….I am new with weaving, but so far I love it! ☺ thanks again….

  6. your tip will prove most valuable as this will be the first time warping my loom…and it is linen warp. now i know what to do….keep that little spritzer handy at the beginning. thank you, sincerely, cath

  7. Great tip! I didn’t know it was a thing, I just wondered why the sagging threads just stopped being a problem… My reason for spritzing was that I live in North East Los Angeles and it’s hot and dry which linen apparently does not love. Now I have some questions:
    You said to only spritz before weaving the header. Is it a problem that I keep spritzing to make the linen more manageable (I read this tip elsewhere)? Do you know of better ways to condition the warp under these circumstances?
    The first couple of inches of the warp were extremely fuzzy. Can that be an effect of the reed and the heddles while tieing the warp to the apron rod?
    My warp is 17/1 unbleached linen and I’m weaving with 48 epi in a 12 dpi reed. I got some breakage, not actually so much in the selvedges. Today I will get a 20 dpi reed and I will try with 40 epi. Maybe that changes something.
    Thanks again!

    • I think you can continue spritzing the warp tho I never did. I don’t know why the beginning of the warp was fuzzy, but I remember a teacher had us take a damp wash cloth and smooth the warp I think at the beginning. 2 per dent is always a good idea so seems like a good thing to try. 4 per dent seems like it could cause abrasion in the reed. A 10 dent reed will have even larger space for the threads to pass–If you think you need 48 epi, you might try for 47 epi at sleying 4-5-5 per dent in a 10. Just a thought. More threads per inch give more support for fine threads to avoid breakage is another thought so you might like the 48 epi. 4 or 5 per dent might give reed marks, too. So you have some options to try. singles linen can make a nice warp–when hard finished, the threads will flatten out nicely is my feeling.

  8. Thank you for your reply! I will keep your advice in mind. Your blog is an excellent resource for me. Please keep it up 🙂

  9. Thanks so much for this tip! I’m just winding a linen warp, and this will be my first project using only linen (warp & weft).

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